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New VHSL Pitching Guidelines

Counting innings will give way to pitch counts next year in an effort to ease the overuse of high school pitchers’ arms.

The National Federation of High Schools this week revised its baseball rulebook and will require state associations – including the Virginia High School League – to develop a pitching restriction policy based on the number of pitches thrown during a game.

The policy will replace the VHSL’s current guidelines, which permit a pitcher to throw no more than 14 innings during a seven-day period. There are further restrictions depending on how many innings are thrown each day.

“I think it’s a step in the right direction,” Great Bridge coach Sean Townsend said of the pending guidelines. “If a kid throws seven pitches in one inning, or 50 pitches in one inning, we count that as one inning. Those aren’t the same stress on the arm.”

The VHSL is expected to discuss specifics in the coming months, and new pitch-count restrictions will go into effect for the 2016-17 school year.

“We are currently in the very early stages of developing a plan of action,” league spokesman Mike McCall wrote in an email.

Townsend and Western Branch coach Roland Wright said most high school coaches already monitor their staff’s pitch counts, but agreed changing the rule is a good idea.

“It’s going to be better for kids health-wise,” Wright said. “Every decision the VHSL makes is in the best interest of the health or well-being of the kids. I know they want a lot of input from coaches, and it’s going to be good for the game.”

Jami Frankenberry, 757-446-2376, jami.frankenberry@pilotonline.com Follow @JamiVP on Twitter.